Governor issues disaster declaration for Kansas flooding

Posted: Updated:
Courtesy Austin Hughes Courtesy Austin Hughes

Kansas Governor Laura Kelly has signed a disaster declaration due to flooding in 16 counties. 

The counties include Barber, Chase, Clark, Cowley, Geary, Greenwood, Harvey, Marion, Meade, Neosho, Osage, Ottawa, Reno, Rice and Sumner.

In response to widespread torrential rainfall, the Kansas Division of Emergency Management activated the State Emergency Operations Center in Topeka at to monitor flooding and provide assistance to local jurisdictions.

The Kansas Adjutant General's Department said the disaster declaration may be amended to include any additional counties that experience flooding. 

"I want to urge people to avoid playing in or around a flooded stream," said Gov. Kelly. "There may be dangerous floating debris, hidden underwater obstacles, and treacherous currents. Please don't try to launch a boat or swim in the water. Even fishing or walking along the bank can be dangerous because the bank may be slippery or easily collapse. Flood waters demand our utmost respect."

The operations center received a request for sandbags to support flood fighting operations in Chase County. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is providing these sandbags and coordinating with local officials. 

The state division of emergency management also deployed a regional coordinator to Chase County to work with local emergency management.

There are currently river gauges in major and moderate flooding stage with the majority in south-central and southeast Kansas.

Road closures have been reported in Atchison, Clay, Chase, Cowley, Doniphan, Harvey, Leavenworth, Lyon, Marion, Marshall, Osage, Reno, Rice, Saline, and Sumner County. Within Sumner County, I-35 northbound is currently closed between South Haven and Wellington with an anticipated reopening later this evening.

Officials remind the public to avoid walking or driving through flood waters. 

"Each year, more deaths occur due to flooding than from any other thunderstorm-related hazard," Adjutant General's Department said. "The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that over half of all flood-related drownings occur when a vehicle is driven into hazardous flood water. Even 18 inches of water is sufficient to float a vehicle and it only takes six inches of fast-moving flood water to knock an adult off his feet."